Mastering at[] in pandas: A Comprehensive Guide

Pandas is a widely-used Python library for data analysis and manipulation, and the DataFrame is one of its central structures. The DataFrame allows you to store and work with tabular data, where data is organized in rows and columns. For effective data manipulation, understanding different ways to access and modify data is crucial. In this guide, we will focus on the at[] accessor – a fast method for accessing a single value and updating it.

What is at[] in pandas?

link to this section

The at[] accessor provides a quick and efficient way to access a single value within a DataFrame or Series. It is faster than other methods like loc[] or iloc[] when you need to access or update just one specific value because it directly accesses the value in memory without any overhead.

How to Use at[] in pandas

link to this section

Accessing a Single Value

To access a single value using at[] , you need to provide the row label and the column label.

import pandas as pd 
data = {'Name': ['Alice', 'Bob', 'Charlie'], 'Age': [25, 30, 35], 'City': ['New York', 'San Francisco', 'Los Angeles']} 

df = pd.DataFrame(data) 
value =[0, 'Name'] 
print(value) # Output: Alice 

In this example, at[] is used to access the 'Name' of the first row.

Updating a Single Value

Updating a value is just as straightforward.[0, 'Age'] = 26 print(df) 

This code updates Alice's age to 26.

Why Use at[]?

link to this section


The main advantage of at[] is its speed, especially noticeable when dealing with large DataFrames. It provides a direct view to the data in memory, and there is no need to fetch more data than necessary.


For accessing or updating a single value, at[] provides a more concise and readable syntax.

Limitations of at[]

link to this section

Single Value Only

at[] is designed to access or update a single value, so you cannot use it to access or update multiple values at once.

No Boolean Indexing

Unlike loc[] , at[] does not support boolean indexing. You need to provide the exact row and column labels.

Labels Must Exist

The row and column labels you provide must exist in the DataFrame, otherwise a KeyError will be raised.


link to this section

The at[] accessor in pandas is a powerful tool for accessing and updating single values in a DataFrame or Series. Its speed and simplicity make it an excellent choice for situations where you need to work with individual elements. By mastering at[] , you can ensure efficient and concise data manipulation, aiding your data analysis workflows. With this guide, you’re now equipped to use at[] effectively in your pandas endeavors. Happy coding!